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Olivier Leflaive – 2012

fgruxTasted in Puligny with Franck Grux, the 22nd October, 2014.

Olivier Leflaive
Place du Monument
21190 Puligny-Montrachet
Tel: +33 3 80 21 37 65+33 3 80 21 37 65
www.olivier-leflaive.com

The pre-amble…
Today was clearly a test. I’d asked (for my first visit here) to taste 2013s, but the answer was ‘It’s too early for 13s, but you may come and taste 12s, if you wish.’ So I took up the challenge and to make the contacts…

Actually, what prompted me to visit was a much higher profile for this producer’s wines in the last 12 months or-so – was this just down to a new person in marketing, or merchants with more wine to sell, or was I missing something? I’d always considered this producer’s wines good but not for the top table. Time to test…

I tasted with Franck Grux, who is a cousin of Jean-Marc Roulot and the winemaker here since he replaced Jean-Marc Boillot in 1989.

Franck on 2012:
Reflecting on the constant work and challenges in the vines in this vintage: “I started in 1983 and this is one of the most complicated vintages I’ve had to deal with – yet, I’m very happy with the results – but it really wasn’t easy! I think, and hope that the 12s will turn out to be great wines, but 20 years ago I’m sure the result would have been rather different.”

The wines…

All O-Leflaive’s fermentations ae in wood, even if later elevage is in tank. Typically there is a light battonage but only 1 or 2 times per month, eventually the wines having a small fining. Typically they are racked around April-May before bottling after the following vintage. There is about 20% new oak used for the villages and just a little more for the 1ers – 25%. Since the 2012 vintage, all the wines are sealed with DIAM 10 seals – almost, the aligoté takes a DIAM 5.

Franck provides the following context: “We buy grapes, must, even wine at the start. But slowly and surely we have more and more input into the grapes, even picking for ourselves. And Olivier contributes 16 hectares of his own vines too.

“It’s complex. We are a commercial organisation buying grapes to make wine. But we also have the chance to improve, to influence people, to make things better and better. I think we are progressing.”

I agree.

2012 Bourgogne Blanc Les Setilles
Really a big cuvée this, 10-15,000 cases per annum out of a total of ~65,000 total white wine production! It’s the biggest part of O.Leflaive’s production each year; a normal vintage assembles grapes from 60-70 parcels of vines, 80% of-which lie within the boundaries of Meursault and Puligny.
Aromatically this gives the impression of being quite large, despite seemingly being a little tight. The wine has concentration and good underlying acidity and intensity. There’s a faint CO2 biting into the tongue but this remains large-scales, faintly phenolic and very tasty. For the label, there’s a fine palate-staining finish.

2012 Bourgogne Blanc Oncle Vincent
This bottles bears a gaudy gold label, and is produced only from purchased grapes from vineyards in Puligny. This wine spends a little longer on its lees before bottling.
Less wide but perhaps with more depth, the aromas here are also not so communicative. A little gas on the palate but this wine eventually settles into a very nice texture – it’s fuller, but also finer too.

2012 Meursault
Here is an assembly of 16 parcels from the higher and lower slopes of the commune – almost 1:1 in this vintage.
Medium lemon-yellow. A faint whiff of SO2 but it’s not too distracting. Lovely width of flavour on the palate, the wines is silky too. This tastes absolutely super – I like it very much!

2012 Chassagne-Montrachet
An assembly of 9 different vines in Chassagne. I asked, and yes, it’s a quite strong press used here – the grapes need ‘more help to produce juice’ said Franck.
A fresher and wider aromatic, perhaps with a faint caramel – I also think a hint of SO2 again. There is a faint oakiness but I really like the structure and flavour here – it’s faintly phenolic but I find it additive to both, and brings a texture almost of tannin. I also like this wine very much.

2012 Puligny-Montrachet
Resulting from just 24 hl/ha in 2012, less batonnage too.
Tight, aromatic and faintly ripe nose – yet hard to find descriptive hooks. Very silky, wide and concentrated. There is fine underlying acidity and staining extract – wow! It’s worth making a special effort to try a bottle because here is 1er cru concentration, extract and weight of interest.

2012 Meursault 1er Poruzots
From a blend of both higher and lower-slope Poruzots
Ouf, faint reduction and a little SO2 – yet the nose is wide and still with plenty of freshness, plus a certain weight of fruit at the core. Silky, good intensity and concentration of flavour. That flavour diminishes only very slowly in the finish. A wine of weight yet fine balance – though today without much conversation (energy!) – still, it’s easy to recommend.

A blind, and thought-provoking, Puligny 1er test:

Wine 1.
The nose is a little tight, but there’s certainly more depth than the Poruzots – plus a faintly reductive tone. There’s a trace of gas on the palate, but the mid-palate slowly exercises its control, becoming ever-more intense – fresh, 1er cru intensity and then even another dimension of flavour, flavour that clings to your gums. Despite a rather discrete nose this is really very fine.

Wine 2.
This nose is also tight, but wider and fresher with some ripeness at the core. Also a little gas here, perhaps more. The flavour starts wider and is fine, but doesn’t grow as much as the first in the mid-palate. There is still a mid-palate peak of flavour but no secondary complexity when compared to the first wine. Again fine, but the first wine is the most impressive.

So!!!
Wine #1 was 2012 Puligny Pucelles from a 20-year long contract, from old vines that deliver very small grapes – but the vineyard is chemically ‘managed.’
Wine #2 Was also 2012 Puligny Pucelles but vines ceded to Olivier Leflaive by Domaine Leflaive: Not as old vines as for wine #1 but, of-course, managed Biodynamically.
So (encore!) it looks like vine age and or grape quality trumps Biodynamics, or does it? Just think how good wine #1 might be if also run on BD for 10 years 😉
The only difference – label-wise – for these two wines is that one says at the top of the label: Product de France, the other, Recolte du Domaine…

2012 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Abbaye de Morgeot
The slightly dumb nose seems to be theme to the tasting today. Large and (eventually due to gas) silky palate. Actually the flavour really stains the palate with this wine – fine concentration and then a burst of flavour after the mid-palate. Interesting because it’s not obviously Chassagne for me today, but lovely wine none-the-less.

2012 Bâtard-Montrachet
An assembly of 4 small parcels – 2 in Chassagne, 2 in Puligny. All were bought as grapes, and 3 were harvested by the O.Leflaive team. There are 8 barrels of this, and 3 are of new wood. “I don’t know if its great Bâtard, but I’m content with the showing” says Franck.
Here is a little more aromatic depth, but undoubtedly still tight. Fuller and rounder in the mouth, but with fine underlying acidity. Again, there’s palate-staining concentration; here’s a wine that’s distinguished by the width of flavour on the palate – both before and after swallowing. Aromatics apart, a wine that’s above criticism.

2012 Corton-Charlemagne
From equal amounts of Pernand, Aloxe and Ladoix fruit.
By comparison, this has a much wider aromatic than any of the previous wines, augmented with a little agrumes and some phenolic impression. Muscular and energetic – not fat. Complex. Actually very long finishing too. Long, long and super.

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?